“...For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). NKJV
Recently, I was honored to officiate the funeral of a relative. He was full of life every time I saw him, usually with a huge smile on his face.
Following my remarks at his graveside, one of his sons and I visited briefly. We talked about the things we did when we were little boys. After we spoke, I thought to myself that when we played together as youngsters, our parents were much younger then than he and I are now.
Wow! Where does the time go? Why do the years pass by so quickly? We are literally here one day and gone tomorrow.
When I read or hear of someone dying, I am often reminded of when my wife and I headed for home early one morning, after vacationing in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. At first, due to the heavy fog, we could barely see the taillights of the car in front of us. Then, without warning, the fog lifted and was gone.
And so it is with life. We are all here for a brief moment of time, then God calls us out of this world.
As believers, knowing this, it is so important that we make each day count for the glory of God because our time on this earth is ebbing away.
We should all take inventory of our lives, and ask ourselves each night, “What did I do today to honor God? Did I show His love by giving to someone in need? Did I express His love by speaking words of kindness to another? And if tomorrow does arrive, what will I do to cause the Heavenly Father to smile with approval.”
When life ends, those of us who have placed our faith in Christ will go to where He is and be rewarded for what we did in this life for the cause of His Kingdom. We need to live so that when that time comes, we will not be ashamed to meet the Lord.
Consider the words of the poet C.T. Studd wrote, “Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last".
How are you living today? Do you know Christ as your personal Savior? If not, place your faith in Him before it is too late! And if you do know Christ, then allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in living a life that is pleasing in the eyes of God.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Colossians 3:23-25; Hebrews 9:27
"But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor…" (Philippians 1:22) NKJV
The apostle Paul had been falsely accused of stirring up trouble, when really all he had done was to share the Good News that Jesus saves. So-called witnesses testified against him, but because Paul was a Roman citizen, he had the right to appeal to Caesar, the emperor of the Roman Empire.
Awaiting his hearing before Caesar, while imprisoned in Rome, Paul did not know if he would be released from prison or executed. So, he wrote to his Christian brothers and sisters in the church at Philippi, "But IF I live on in the flesh..." To Paul, that was a big "if!" Either way, he knew he would be just fine because he trusted in the Lord. If Paul lived, he would continue his ministry, but IF NOT, and he were executed, he would simply go home to Heaven to be with the Lord.
How about you? Are you prepared for the "if nots" of life? What if your financial situation never improves? What if you never have the Christian marriage you desire? What if your wayward child never turns his or her life around? What if you are persecuted for your faith when all you wish to do is live for the Lord, tell others about him and help them also to become His faithful followers? What if life doesn’t turn out the way you planned? Can you agree with Paul that all that you will keep trusting and living for the Lord?
King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image and decreed that all within the Babylonian Empire bow down to it. However, there were three Hebrew young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who had placed their faith in God, and so, they refused. The king told them that their refusal would mean they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. But the three told the king, according to Daniel 3:17-18, "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But IF NOT, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” NKJV
In the case of the three Hebrews, God indeed delivered them from the fire, but they were prepared “IF NOT.”
Here is the inside scoop: According to the Bible, everything in life is NOT going to always go your way. God might allow you to endure certain things so that others can be helped. He might allow certain things to occur to increase your faith. He could allow difficulties and problems to come your way for which you might never know the reason. But be assured of this, the Father knows best! He sees the big picture when we see only a tiny brushstroke on the canvass.
Be prepared for the "IF NOTS" of life. If they haven't already arrived, trust me, they are on the way! Just remember the promise of Jesus that He will never leave you nor forsake you. God is forever faithful!
Read Isaiah 41:10, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 1 Peter 5:7
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). NKJV
I suppose one of my biggest pet peeves is to see or hear someone quote scripture out of context or say that the Bible says something that it simply does not say.
Recently, for example, I read a Facebook post by a woman who was attempting to defend any woman’s so-called “right” to choose abortion.
In her attempt to defend the actions of other women, she wrote, “The Bible says, don’t judge.”
Actually, what the Word of God says in Matthew 7:1-2 is, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” NKJV
To say, “The Bible says, don’t judge,” is to make a false statement. However, when someone wants to excuse his or her sins or condone the sins of others, that is usually what he or she will say.
Using these verses as an example of one misquoting scripture, allow me to explain what the Lord meant when He spoke those words in Matthew 7:1-2.
Jesus was not saying that as His followers we are never to pass judgment on someone else. To the contrary, in several other places in scripture, including the very same chapter in which these verses are included, God’s Word makes clear that Jesus was not condemning all manner of judgment.
Thus while thinking of, often misquoting or taking verse 1 out of context, sometimes one presents an argument against all forms of judgment. But again, that is not at all what Jesus was saying.
In fact, a few verses later in this same chapter, Jesus, Himself, referred to some people as dogs (v. 6) and false prophets (v. 15). Then, He went on to say in verse 16, that you will know men by their fruits. Was He judging others when He made those statements? Of course He was! The apostle Paul was also incredibly bold in calling out the sinful actions of others, as was the apostle Peter.
In Matthew 7, Jesus was simply instructing His listeners not to make hasty and unfair judgments of others when they, themselves, were guilty of the same sin.
For example, when the woman who was caught in adultery was taken before Jesus, He said to her accusers, “...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). NKJV
He made that statement to them because it was likely some of the woman’s accusers had been with the woman themselves or were guilty of the same sin of adultery.
So, be careful to know what you are talking about when you say, “The Bible says...,” because the fact of the matter might be that God’s Word doesn’t say that at all, at least not in the way you are using it to make your case.
~And there you have it—my sermon for the day.
Read 2 Peter 3:16, Revelation 22:18-19
Jerry Fulton's goal in life is to share the love of Jesus, so others might become followers of Christ.